Devotion and Counterspells

By far the biggest chunk of questions I’ve gotten from my players and my threads the past week are all about the last mechanic we’re covering this week (sorry, Scry): Devotion. Devotion is more or less a reworking of Chroma, an ability word from back in Lorwyn block. Put simply, “Devotion to COLOR” is measured by how many mana symbols of that color appear in the mana costs of your permanents. It doesn’t matter how many black permanents total you have, for example, to find your Devotion to Black. What matters is how many black mana symbols are among their mana costs!

So far we’ve seen a bunch of triggers, a couple of mana abilities, and the Gods’ weird “sometimes I’ve got legs” static abilities. For all the triggers, your Devotion isn’t checked until the trigger actually resolves. So usually Gray Merchant of Asphodel is gonna drain for at least 2, but if it eats a Murder or a Hero’s Downfall before the trigger resolves, you won’t count Merchant’s mana symbols towards your devotion (simlarly, the abilities on Karametra’s Acolyte and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx only care what your devotion is as they resolve. However, since both of those abilities are mana abilities, they don’t use the stack and can’ be responded to!).

But then you have the real trip-up: The Gods. All five of them are severely undercosted, indestructible beaters with neat effects. However, they’re only creatures while your Devotion to their color is great enough. But what does that mean for other zones? For example, I see a lot of confusion about when you can Essence Scatter a Nylea, God of the Hunt, or when you can Negate a Thassa, God of the Sea. The answer to that is “usually” and “never”, in that order. The Gods do not ‘turn off’ as creatures anywhere but the battlefield. That means that on the stack, they’re always creature spells regardless of devotion, and everywhere else they’re always creature cards. You’ll always be able to find Nylea or Thassa or Erebos with a Worldy Tutor. Unless something else is interfering with your normal countering power, you’ll always be able to Essence Scatter a Heliod, and you’ll never be able to Negate it.

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